Women, Nursing, and Baccalaureate Education in 20th Century America

This article reviews the history of nursing and baccalaureate education in the United States throughout the 20th century. The analysis pays particular attention to gender, race and class consideration in exploring the education of nurses in America.

Social support championing the improvement of overall educational levels of nurses in the early 20th century enabled nursing to be viewed as a vehicle of upward social mobility. This promise specifically affected African-American, Hispanic and Asian American nurses.  However, as the 20th century continued, the average educational level of U.S. nurses compared to that of all U.S. women decreased.

The article concludes that when the language of class and community integrates into that of science, knowledge and clinical excellence, the profession’s education initiatives are more broadly supported.